Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. # 42-47 (Final Retribution)
Writer: Gregory Wright
Penciler: John Heebink
* #42-46 Inker: Don Hudson
* #47 Inker: Brain Garvey
Colorist: Kevin Tinsley
Letterer: Philip Felix

The death of Werner Von Strucker, Fury's prime suspect in reorganizing S.H.I.E.L.D., prompts Fury to descend into the depths of S.H.I.E.L.D. Central to look for answers. There he finds the originals of all the agents copied during the Deltite Affair, as well as Red and Lump still alive and being tracked down by a brainwashed Clay Quartermain. Fury escapes with Red and Lump and dispatches a team to retrieve the cyro-frozen agents. Meanwhile, Fury's friends try to find a way to quell Fury's paranoia and guilt, especially Val whose regrets over betraying Fury have begun to build after the end of her relationship with Mac.

The Super Agents are revealed to be Hydra agents who brainwashed G.W. Bridge, and they try and eliminate the recently recovered agents in stasis. In the ensuing battle Ivory and Nina are killed, driving Fury further to the brink. Von Strucker finally slips when Romulus is captured trying to eliminate the mutant Gideon. Fury leads a strike force against Von Strucker's Iceland base with help from his revitalized agents in order to free Val, Jasper, and Kate held hostage there. Kate dies and Fury and the Baron engage in a no-holds fight to the death which results in Von Strucker's Satan Claw being chopped from his arm and the villain falling to his death. Fury and Val are reunited and all return to the helicarrier to lay their dead to rest.

  • Continuity Notes
  • Fury accepts directorship of S.H.I.E.L.D. again
  • Final appearances by Nina (#45), Kate Neville (#47); both whom are killed.
  • Final appearances also for Al Mackenzie (#47), Alexander Pierce (#47), Red and Lump, the latter two not seen since #12
  • Final appearance of the second Super Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., all revealed to be Hydra agents.
  • Cameos by Howling Commandos Izzey Cohen, Percy Pinkerton, and Dino Maneli
  • Return of Clay Quartermain, Laura Brown, Jimmy Woo, Sidney "Gaff" Levine, all last seen in Nick Fury Vs S.H.I.E.L.D. miniseries
  • Other guest appearances include Captain America, Red Skull, Solo, Gideon, Viper, and President Clinton
  • Despite his apparent death in #47, Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker later reappears in Daredevil #326.
  • Story reprinted inS.H.I.E.L.D.: Hydra Reborn.
  • For more, check out our interview with penciler John Heebink
  • For more, check out our interview with inker Don Hudson
  • For more, check out our interview with editor Gregory Wright

After the game of creative talent musical chairs that plagued the title since the departure of Guice and Chichester, the book settles down for its final creative team of writer Gregory Wright, penciler John Heebink, and stalwart inker Don Hudson. Sadly the trio are saddled with a dying book and a gazillion loose plot threads to tie up which starts off well but is soon rushed too fast into a disappointing conclusion for the last issue. First and foremost, Lobdell's "Super Agents" are laid to rest by having them revealed to be Hydra agents.
Although this twist makes a nice revenge on this death knell of the title, it nonetheless is a cheap shot as it makes no sense with the hints of Psi-Borg's personal quest to find out where she came from in previous issues and still doesn't explain Violence's always palatable dislike of Fury which she explains only as "it's personal". The killing frenzy sadly extends to two of the best supporting characters in the book, the sassy Nina and the reformed Ivory. Wright tries to counter these losses with the return of the entire lineup of the original S.H.I.E.L.D. killed off in the miniseries, as well as returning Red and Lump, with mixed results. 

In all honesty I was quite ready to forget the latter two although they were always workable characters. Red's newfound horniness and Lump's bizarre new He-Man look tears down what little potential they had. The return of the original S.H.I.E.L.D. lineup is mixed news at best. Plotwise it makes for a fantastic twist however its undoing of the landmark miniseries leave a sour taste; not to mention creating a very crowded cast suddenly. Matters aren't helped much with guest appearances by Captain America, Solo, and even the Howling Commandos. Precious time that could have been spent on furthering the plot is instead used for a cavalcade of introduction. 

The real losers here, aside from the readers, are the second S.H.I.E.L.D. cast; Kate and Nina are knocked off while Bruno, Mac, and Pierce simply disappear into the crowded background. Missing for some time, Von Strucker finally returns to the pages of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he's as mad as ever. Wright cleverly counterpoints many scenes with Strucker and Fury; for example Fury training with Captain America while Strucker maims his men. Also its no accident that while Fury is disjointed from his love life and his circle of friends, Strucker is happily banging away Romulus and hanging out with his buddy the Red Skull. Like everyone else, Von Strucker is undone by the rushed final issue which is too hectic and unfulfilling for words. The art is hailing from the oversized, cartoony look. Like the scripting, the last few issues seemed to be extremely rushed and Heebink's pencils aren't as clear toward the last issues. 

The final issue is inarguably a rush job with a horrible inking job which don't match Heebink's pencils at all. A case of all the elements being there, but not enough time to flesh them out; at least Nick and Val get back together.